Friday, July 27, 2007

This Week's Featured Book

The Featured Book of the Week is Courting Failure: How Competition for Big Cases is Corrupting the Bankruptcy Courts. Lynn M. LoPucki authored the book and The University of Michigan Press published it.

“A sobering chronicle of our broken bankruptcy-court system, Courting Failure exposes yet another American institution corrupted by greed, avarice, and the thirst for power. Lynn LoPucki's eye-opening account of the widespread and systematic decay of America's bankruptcy courts is a blockbuster story that has yet to be reported in the media. LoPucki reveals the profound corruption in the U.S. bankruptcy system and how this breakdown has directly led to the major corporate failures of the last decade, including Enron, MCI, WorldCom, and Global Crossing. LoPucki, one of the nation's leading experts on bankruptcy law, offers a clear and compelling picture of the destructive power of "forum shopping," in which attorneys choose courts that offer the most favorable outcome for their bankrupt clients. The courts, lured by power and prestige, streamline their requirements and lower their standards to compete for these lucrative cases. The result has been a series of increasingly shoddy reorganizations of major American corporations, proposed by greedy corporate executives and authorized by case-hungry judges.” - Book Description

"This book is smart, shocking and funny. This story has everything-professional greed, wrecked companies, and embarrassed judges. Insiders are already buzzing." – Elizabeth Warren, Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Courting Failure will be available to borrow after Friday, August 3, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"How to Bring Associates Into the Law Library"

William P. Atkins, a partner in Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman's McLean, Va., office, recently wrote an article for Legal Times commenting on the decline of use of the law library in firms by summer associates and young associates and the increased dependence of online legal research resources. In the article he voices his concerns and notes researching solely with electronic tools may lead to a myopic research strategy. He states, “in relying so heavily on a singular case found electronically, the researcher adopts a view ironically constrained by technology, its boundaries set by what a keyboard and mouse can deliver to us, not by the totality of information out there.”

Although Mr. Atkins shows an appreciation for print resources, he is by no means “an embittered Luddite.” He admits to being addicted to his Blackberry and is “a big fan of online research,” but conditions their usefulness as being tools.

In concluding his article, Mr. Atkins describes his firm’s answer to “how to bring associates into the law library.” The solution is “Summer Associate Research Challenge” which was created by Mr. Atkins and Kevin Kramer, another partner, about six years ago. The goal of the contest is to answer the most legal research questions in 90 minutes or less by only using print resources and providing photocopies of the answers. Regarding the challenge, Mr. Atkins remarks, “this fun, page-flipping fury shows that our field will always benefit from a broad understanding of the law first. That means we need to keep a healthy level of familiarity and faith in books, versus continually leaving research to cyberspace.”

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Featured Book of the Week

Albeit belated, this week's Featured Book is The Spirit of American Law. It was edited by George S. Grossman and published by Westview Press.

“An anthology of introductory readings on the roots, current practice, and future of American law - This collection of readings is intended as a broad introduction to the roots, practice, and future of law in America. Compiled from the recommended reading lists for first-year students from over eighty law schools, the selections in this anthology were chosen to explore broad subjects rather than specific niches of law. The readings have been selected largely from books with appeal to the general public; only the concluding section contains articles from legal periodicals. Professor Grossman has chosen readings that illustrate the defining characteristics of America's legal profession, the philosophical issues that underlie the day-to-day practice of law, and the social consequences of sometimes abstract legal decisions. The organization is largely chronological-thirty-three readings divided into sections on the roots, growth, and future of an American institution.” - Book Description

“This is an excellent collection that every law student and practitioner can dip into at their leisure and find an appreciation of our legal system.” - Bimonthly Review of Law Books

The Spirit of American Law will be available to borrow after Friday, July 27, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Today in Legal History blog

What to know what happened on this day in law or government? If so, check out Today in Legal History blog. Today in Legal History is a collaboration between FindLaw and Justice Talking.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Congratulations, Andrew R. Roszak

gold star

Andrew R. Roszak, J.D. / M.P.A. Candidate - Class of 2008, sent us this good news:

His paper — The Legalities of Legislatively Mandated Automated External Defibrillators in Educational Settings — was selected for presentation at the Education Law and Policy Forum conference in Athens, Georgia in September, and for publication in the third volume of the Education Law and Policy Forum in October.

Congratulations, Andy!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

dog photo

This week's SIU Law Dog is Roccer (rhymes with saucer). Aaron Call (class of 2007) sent us this photo that was taken when Roccer was a puppy and Aaron was a 1L student. Now Roccer is a full-grown Great Dane at 140 lbs., and Aaron is a graduate.

The SIU Law Dogs and Cats of the Week will appear only intermittently until we receive more photos. Thanks to everyone who contributed. If you are an SIU School of Law student, professor, staff member, alumnus, or friend of the law library, see our Call for Photos for instructions on submitting your dog or cat photo. To see photos of all previous Law Dogs and Cats of the Week, visit our Gallery of SIU Law Dogs and Cats, which you can find under Related Links in the sidebar.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Featured Book

Due to the AALL (American Association of Law Libraries) conference, Just Words: Law, Language, and Power will be the Featured Book for the next two weeks. Just Words was written by John M. Conley and William M. O'Barr and published by the University of Chicago Press.

“Is it "just words" when a lawyer cross-examines a rape victim in the hopes of getting her to admit an interest in her attacker? Is it "just words" when the Supreme Court hands down a decision or when business people draw up a contract? In tackling the question of how an abstract entity exerts concrete power, Just Words focuses on what has become the central issue in law and language research: what language reveals about the nature of legal power. Conley and O'Barr show how the microdynamics of the legal process and the largest questions of justice can be fruitfully explored through the field of linguistics. Each chapter covers a language-based approach to a different area of the law, from the cross-examinations of victims and witnesses to the inequities of divorce mediation. Combining analysis of common legal events with a broad range of scholarship on language and law, Just Words seeks the reality of power in the everyday practice and application of the law. As the only study of its type, the book is the definitive treatment of the topic that will be welcomed by students and specialists alike.” - Book Description

"From their careful analyses of discourse in legal settings as diverse as rape trials and divorce mediations, Conley and O'Barr demonstrate convincingly that power relationships pervade legal process. Just Words is both an engaging introduction to the study of legal anthropology, and a model for how such work should be done." – Lawrence M. Solan, Brooklyn Law School

Just Words will be available to borrow after Friday, July 20, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Improve Your Legal Writing

pen and ink

Wherever you are in your legal career, you can always improve your writing. But how can you find the time? Wayne Schiess has some suggestions for improving your writing, at his blog, Prof. Schiess wrote the suggestions for busy lawyers, and you can use them too.

I have a couple of suggestions to add to those offered by Prof. Schiess. First, read blogs about writing. Besides, I recommend the (new) legal writer, Manage Your Writing, and the Illinois Trial Practice Weblog. Manage Your Writing is about business writing, but the principles apply just as well to legal writing. Evan Schaeffer writes on a number of practical topics, including legal writing, on his Illinois Trial Practice Weblog. Reading blogs about writing will take only a few minutes a day, and you will gain many helpful tips.

My second suggestion, if you are a law student, is to use Prof. Schiess's CALI lessons, Punctuation and Grammar Basics for Law Students and Punctuation and Grammar: Advanced. Your use of punctuation and grammar says a lot about you, especially if you use them poorly.

You cannot afford to submit a poorly-written document to a court, another attorney, a client, or a potential client. Do something to improve your writing now.